The terms “Cloud Computing” and “Software as a Service” have been flying around in IT circles for a while now, and have become a local buzz word, so much so we even having conferences based on these buzz words. Yet a number of people still do not understand what the core of Cloud Computing / SaaS is supposed to deliver ?
In short, Cloud Computing is simply to access shared resources, software over the internet, and Software as a Service (SaaS) to make that software available to customers via the same channel and thereby the vendor or supplier, charges a type of a leasing fee (depending on the vendors business model) for utilizing their software or resources. [Edit: Of course - this model has at its core - the ability to scale massively and on demand - something that not all 'legacy' vendors are able to do. BC]
The conceptual idea of selling software has become a model of the past, most companies are moving to a software as a service model allowing their services and software to be made available to customers at a fraction of the cost while they still maintain the ownership of the software. [Edit: unfortunately not always at a fraction of the cost, but the long term TCO is generally considerably lower due to the simplified approach. BC]
This has obviously changed the strategy and operations for the smaller to medium size vendors who have been more flexible in growing their own market share within the SaaS business model.
But this does put strain on the larger [legacy] vendors who do not have the flexibility of the smaller [younger - SaaS specific] companies, they have to incorporate their current business model and build that into a Cloud-based / SaaS model moving forward, which has kept a number of BA’s up late at night trying to figure out how to move this large ship with fixed processes and models to a flexible Cloud Based customer centric solution. For some local and international companies this is still a slow and difficult transition.
OPNET is a company that we have partnered with for a number of years, and are certainly a leader in the APM space. They too are in the process of slowly changing their business model within the Network and Application Performance arena to ensure that they move forward with the changing trend in IT [edit - but as mentioned above - this isn't always easy. BC].
OPNET was founded in 1986 by brothers Mark and Alain Cohen, have a number of software packages in three categories of application and network concerns. Application Performance Management, Network Engineering, Operations, and Planning and Network R&D.
Its flagship product is APM (Application Performance Management) suite, which consists of three solutions: ACE Live, ACE Analyst, and Panorama.
ACE Live performs network monitoring, measurement, and detection of SLA violations. It gathers data about application performance, resource utilization, route quality, and other metrics and monitors network flows through passive Ethernet connections. It integrates seamlessly with ACE Analyst, which performs analysis of network packet traces, intermittent application problems, and other data in order to troubleshoot application performance problems.
Panorama does transaction tracing within the Java and .NET platforms and uses correlation technology and a statistical correlation engine to detect patterns in metrics and events. It monitors metrics with established ranges for normal behaviour and identifies deviations based on how far from normal they are.
OPNET’s products are slowing moving towards a SaaS model, but this will take some time, although the company can install its products on site for a customer and operate them on the customer’s behalf, they are still a way off from having a truly Cloud Based / SaaS offering. [Edit - Unfortunately - APM type products just don't lend themselves to SaaS that easily, and Alain's comments below reflect this dilemma. BC]
Alain Cohen CTO of OPNET :
“For the most part, our solutions need to operate in the environment where the business transactions are processed and the network traffic is present,”
“They’re processing a lot of data, so to transfer it across the Internet would not be the best approach, and some of our solutions just wouldn’t work well that way, particularly in some aspects of reporting.”
So for a number of larger well know vendors who are trying to incorporate the SaaS model into their business, it will definitely be a slow and painful process.
For the immediate future Cohen says “OPNET’s mission is to keep looking for new levels of capability for application performance management. It will search for new ways to give all levels of IT staff visibility into the performance they’re getting and to expand the software’s analysis and troubleshooting to every nook and cranny of the IT environment”.